PARTY CITY WITH SO MUCH HISTORY.
temperatures fall to below freezing.
Visas, injections and precautions: None.
Flight duration: 1hr 30mins. Cost: From PS60 return. Best time to visit: Cologne is a year-round destination. Summer temperatures are in the low to mid-twenties, while December can see COLOGNE is one of the oldest cities in Germany, dating back to 38BC. Situated on the river Rhine, much of the city was rebuilt after the Second World War. Today, Cologne is a diverse and cosmopolitan city with lots to offer all year round.
Must sees for free The Belgian Quarter is teeming with boutiques, cafes and restaurants and can be explored on foot.
open until dusk and provide the perfect backdrop for photos, with greenhouses, bridges and lakes. Stop for refreshments at the cafe housed in an orangery-style building, or wander to the Hohenzollern Bridge over the River Rhine to see where couples fix padlocks as a symbol of love.
Top sees for a fee Cologne Cathedral achieved UNESCO world heritage site status in 1996 and its twin spires are a defining feature of Cologne's skyline.
Climb the 533 steps up the tower for spectacular views across the Rhine or visit at night to see the cathedral illuminated in all its gothic glory. Tower entry costs [euro]2.50, tours [euro]8. Cologne has many museums, including the prestigious Museum Ludwig, which features works by Picasso, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock (adult tickets [euro]12).
Sports fans should head to the interactive Deutsches Sport and Olympia Museum (tickets from [euro]For something quirky, see chocolate being made at the Lindt Shokoladen Museum (entry [euro]11.50) or learn about eau de cologne at Farina House Fragrance Museum One of Cologne's newest landmarks - the Koln Triangle is a 103 metre tower offering 360-degree views of the city. It stays open until 11pm on weekends and admission is [euro]3.
Getting around Cologne has a comprehensive public transport system and combined bus and tram tickets are available. Book in advance from www.kvb-koeln.de.
Cars travelling in the city centre must conform to strict environmental regulations and have a low emissions sticker.
Boat trips across the Rhine offer a scenic alternative, with various landing points across the city.
Several boat companies operate between Easter and October, offering single and round-trip tickets.
Eating out Cologne's culinary scene is diverse and it's as easy to find sushi as it is schnitzel.
Among the many food markets, a permanent fixture in Ehrenfeld district is the Koln Street Food Festival, offering traditional fare as well as international dishes.
Go on a Sunday morning and visit the Fruhstucksmarkt - or breakfast market, for fresh coffee, juices and pastries.
Thursday evening's Eat and Meet market in Rudolfplatz Square is a popular hang out after work and is increasingly popular with tourists.
Must-try delicacies include Kolsche Kaviar (black pudding and onion) and Himmel un Aad or Heaven and Earth (apples and potatoes), all washed down with a glass of the local beer, Kolsch.
Going out The city loves to party. Koln carnival opens on November 11 and culminates in wild, colourful parades and parties just before Lent.
The period in between is given over to Christmas markets, which spring up all over the city.
The largest of these is at the cathedral, selling mulled wine and cinnamon and apple goods.
The Aldstadt or Old Town is where the original brewpubs started, and one of the most famous, Fruh, is opposite the town hall.
Here, the blue-robed barman (or Kobe) will continue to serve beer until your coaster is placed over the top of your glass.
In summer, head to the banks of the Rhine for the km 689 Beach Club and dance at open air parties on the white sands and sip cocktails in hammocks and under canopies.
Hotels LUXURY: Hotel Im Wasserturm: This five-star hotel is a converted water tower which still retains its original feature. It boasts a spa, fine dining restaurant and a 360 degree roof terrace among its amenities. Kaygasse. From PS110 per night. MID.RANGE: Hopper Hotel St Antonius: A four-star hotel 15 minutes away from the cathedral. The rooms are modern and equipped with minibars, free wifi and music docking stations. From PS88.
BUDGET: Esplanade Hotel: A threestar hotel near Volksgarten Park which offers a free breakfast buffet and is free for children under 12 staying with a parent. From PS66. Compiled by Nicole McClurg